Duke Energy receives dozens of requests to turn off streetlights for eclipse

Glenn Brill hadn't even thought about the lights.

"My friend mentioned it to me, and he said, 'What are you going to do when the lights pop on?' and I hadn’t even thought about it," Brill said. "As I understand it, they're all on photo cells so the street lights will pop on all over Anderson County when we have totality."

Brill, Anderson County's director of parks, recreation and tourism, has spent the last several months preparing the county for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21. But it wasn't until a friend mentioned street lamps with automatic sensors that Brill even considered streetlights could put a damper on visitors' view of the eclipse. 

Brill put in a request with Duke Energy several months ago to have the power cut at Green Pond Landing and Event Center on Aug. 21 for the duration of the eclipse.

The Black-Out at Green Pond is one of two events Anderson County has developed for people to view the eclipse. After the Green Pond event generated so much popularity, the county announced a second viewing location, the Civic Center of Anderson, in mid-July.

"Back in February, I made the request to cut the power to Green Pond, and that request is being honored," Brill said. "At the Civic Center ... I made that request in July and they had too many requests by then."

Randy Wheeless, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said the company is unable to meet the high number of requests they've received for the eclipse.

"We've received quite a few — there's probably been dozens," Wheeless said. "As a rule, we're not really accepting those."

Though a few exceptions may have been made, Wheeless said meeting every request just isn't feasible.

"To cut off streetlights in any particular neighborhood is a manual process," Wheeless said. "It's very impractical for us to go and manually turn off those streetlights and then go back later and manually turn those lights back on."

Duke Energy simply doesn't have the time or manpower to meet each request to have streetlights manually turned off (and then back on again) all on the same day, Wheeless said.

"We understand the request, but from labor-intensive standpoint — there's thousands of street lamps," Wheeless said. "You're talking about a pretty labor-intensive endeavor."

At the Civic Center, guests will be directed to the William A. Floyd Amphitheater, which will position them so the parking lot (and it's bright lights) will be at their backs, Brill said. 

"We can turn off all of our outside lights, except for the ones in the main parking lot, and the amphitheater backs to the parking lot," Brill said.

More than 60,000 people are expected to visit the county on the 21st — and that’s the low estimate.

It could be as many as 245,000 in Anderson County, and as many as 2 million for the state, Brill said. Because of that influx, locals are encouraged to view from home if they can — and if they choose to, they should try to cut the power to any security lights or outdoor lighting that might be activated by low light, he added.

"The reality is, if you're looking at the sun at this 63-degree angle, the lights shouldn't have too much of an impact," Brill said. "But for most people, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event."

The Greenville News


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